Why do we do what we do?
At LHFC we are passionate about improving the mental health of Liverpool’s homeless community. That’s why we do what we do.
Football has been a great way to tackle the growing issue of mental illness for a variety of reasons; our players have become part of a community, it provides an opportunity to let out aggression and, most importantly, the exercise has a hugely positive affect on their mental health.
32% of the UK’s homeless population is reported to have a mental health problem, whether that is as a result of homelessness, or the reason that an individual became homeless in the first place. Here at the LHFC we use sport to tackle the growing epidemic of both homelessness and poor mental health.
The foundation of our charity ethos is a desire to support vulnerable people in their journey through poverty and homelessness. By helping them to create their own support strategies, and encourage positive, healthy habits such as exercise, we want to encourage our players to rebuild their lives and look after themselves. A huge part of this is helping people deal with the stress, and often poor mental health, that homelessness can generate. At LHFC we have seen first-hand how sport and exercise can have a huge impact on our players mental wellbeing.
Last year the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine provided evidence to support the relationship between physical movement and mental health. They found that people who participated in regular, daily exercise were 20-30% less likely to experience either anxiety or depression. It was found that exercise has a greater positive affect that antidepressants, with fewer side effects.
When you get moving, the good endorphins in your body get pumping. It boosts the brains production of feel-good neurotransmitters and gives you a long-lasting buzz that, over time, can change everything; it can make you happier, give you more energy and lessen your risks of physical health problems like heart disease.
Daily exercise can also reduce stress levels by up to 40%; most of our players have found themselves experiencing poverty and homelessness, which can put a huge amount of stress upon a person. The weight of finding accommodation, looking for employment and, often, fighting off substance abuse and harmful habits, can be monumental; this is exactly why our matches are so important to our players.
Many of our players have said that our match days give them the opportunity to step outside of themselves for a few hours. They’re no longer dealing with the weight of the world, they’re purely focused on the game at hand. Taking time away from their daily stresses can allow them to take a deep breath and gain perspective, as well as giving them that all important respite.
Many studies have also found that regular exercise hugely benefits self-confidence, which is massively important when you’re facing hardship, and trying to rebuild your life from the ground up, like all-too-many of our players are.
When people question our methods or wonder why we promote football in the way that we do, this is what we tell them: “It’s not just about the game, it’s about so much more”.
That is why we play; we hope you’re playing too.